Thursday, March 28, 2013

DOMA

The case about the Defense of Marriage Act now before the Supreme Court has certainly attracted a lot of attention as well as the ire of liberals and conservatives. Gay rights supporters want the law declared to be unconstitutional and the decision written in such a way that gives them full marriage rights. Religious conservatives want it in place, because of certain Biblical laws and traditions - marriage is between a man and a woman.

My own opinion of the Bible argument is that there is no clear consensus that it is in total and complete favor of marriage being only between one man and one woman. There are too many other mentions of marriage being between one man and several women, as well as rules as to how a wife must completely obey her husband by submitting completely. We can pick and choose what we want, but you aren't going to convince me on this issue that the Bible is clear cut in this matter. I am no Bible scholar, but even I can find conflicting passages.

So, for me, the Bible is not the repository of legal decision making here - it's gotta be the Constitution. It certainly was written by Christians who believed in Christian morals and precepts. They definitely had it in mind that this was to be a Christian nation, but they were not going to force a particular religion on anyone (see Church of England, Henry VIII edition). So, while our Constitution was founded on Christian principals, it does not defer to the Bible for making decisions.

So, let us look at the pertinent Amendments in the Constitution and their relevance. First, the Tenth Amendment.

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

There is nothing in the Constitution about marriage in any amendment, period. This issue is a states' rights problem, not one for the Feds if one interprets this amendment in this manner, period. This means the DOMA is usurping states' rights, end of story. The Supremes should be looking at this as unconstitutional.

However, not so fast, buddy. There is the matter of the Fourteenth Amendment and the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause - both contained in this statement.
Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
By denying gay couple living together civil marriages, we deny them things that heterosexual couples take for granted, such as property rights, life insurance coverage and many other issues. In order for a state to prevent this from happening, they must, according to the Due Process Clause, demonstrate that they did indeed give the parties concerned Due Process according to law. They must also prove that denying civil unions does not prevent equal protection under the law.

I'm sorry, but that is a pretty tall order. While one can argue that this is strictly a states' right issue, and that the Feds need to stay out of it, the two above mentioned clauses negates that thought. So, DOMA is unconstitutional on the basis of the Fourteenth Amendment, even while it seems to violate the Tenth.

I am as much a Constitutional scholar as I am a Biblical scholar. Which ain't much. If this makes me some sort of sexual bigot, so be it, but I am not in favor of gay marriage, nor of a gay lifestyle. I also think that allowing this sort of behavior and making it mainstream will erode our moral base. I think that is may all be a wedge issue, because outfits like NAMBLA are just itching to become legit. They want sex with boys to be considered acceptable, and outfits like GLAAD are more than willing to accept their support. This worries me.

Even bestiality supporters are pushing this. Why would these practitioners of (as far as I'm concerned) sexual aberrations support this issue? Because they want even more, that's why.

But, I also am a great supporter of Constitutional bases for our laws. And I see no way that there is a logical argument in favor of considering DOMA constitutional. Sorry, but I do not.

And on a personal note, I have a former classmate who is gay. She and her companion have been together for I have no idea how many years. They have been politically and personally active in trying to improve the world, in particular, they adopted an abused child and raised him. They gave him a loving home, and by all accounts, he is turning out to be a fine young man.

Whilst I cannot say anything even close. Never married, and unable to keep a relationship going. My parents divorced. How in the wide wide world of sports does this give me moral authority over these two? How can I judge these two?

Simple. I cannot.

I simply do not see how civil unions between same sex couple can be kept illegal. I am most definitely in favor of letting religions institutions choose which side to be on, but I do not see how our Constitutionally supported laws can pick and choose in this regard. I certainly hope the pendulum doesn't swing "the other way" and force churches to perform gay weddings, much the same as forcing religions to support abortions and other birth control practices a la The Affordable Care Act. There has to be differentiation there, period. If not, we'll see the Catholic church and certainly others embroiled in lawsuits for years until the Supremes get around to deciding if forcing religions to support something they most definitely do not is Constitutional or not, and only lawyers will prosper if that happens.

I know I'm gonna hear it from some of my more religious friends, and I'm probably going to hear Bible quotes. Keep in mind that this argument is defined by the Constitutionality of your position, not what the Bible says when you compose your defense. "Render unto Caesar" pretty well applies here.
 

6 comments:

Earl said...

I like to think I would be considered as a religious friend - although, I fall short of both - but I could work at it.

Well, written, well thought out. You do trust the government too much, and since they don't carefully craft all these laws - I keep being reminded of the sheriff's house in Unforgiven, leaking constantly in the rain.

There should be an official civil union form for all loving couples to legally declare their entanglements, simple Federal Tax/Social Security form. How did all these unConstitutional laws come about? Don't worry be happy.

The approved definition of marriage isn't something I base my marriage upon, where I got married you never needed a form - you always needed a commitment and a partner that kept the commitment.

Biblical version, there ain't no divorce in Heaven's eyes. Won't the LORD have surprises for us?

Jeffro said...

When I think of the Constitution and the Supremes, I am reminded of Kelo vs New London, and remember how leaky a vessel that hope in the Court really is.

Road Pig said...

I'm for one man, one woman. Here's why, and you touched on it in your comments. We just keep chipping away at our foundation. Pretty soon everything's OK and nothing is out of bounds. Soddom and Gomorah anyone? That's as close as I'm going to get to bible thumping. My point is we stand for nothing, everything is OK. Reminds me of taking another bong hit.

I will never stand in judgement of another human being. We all make choices and we will all face our own judgement day. At this point in my life, I'm just trying to minimize the guilty votes on my day. Lord knows I need to make up some ground.

Jeffro said...

I hope y'all don't get the idea that I support the issue, but I can see where it is going (I think), and that we're gonna have to take it like it or not.

And I too am a major big time sinner who is depending on the idea of forgiveness and grace come Judgment Day.

David said...

My feelings pretty much echo yours. While I'm fully in support of gay couples having the same legal rights as hetero couples regarding insurance, property rights, making medical and financial decisions in case one is incapacitated or dying, etc, I have trouble jumping on the gay marriage bandwagon because I fear the unintended (or possibly intended) consequences of breaking down another established institution, several of which you just mentioned. This all despite the fact that I have a brother legally married to another man in California, and I would never want to see the two separated. I also know of gay couples that have taken in unwanted or abused children, and done a fantastic job of raising them.

Bob said...

Very thoughtful exploration of these issues.